Student transportation spending plummeted during pandemic, early data shows

Despite an overall 1.5% increase in K-12 public school revenues in FY2020, preliminary data from the US Census Bureau indicates that student transportation funding has fallen in 30 states, while school buses have moved to a new model of food delivery and Wi-Fi. in a switch to virtual learning.

Tim Ammon of the Decision Support Group, an industry consultant, analyzed initial data released Tuesday in the annual School System Finances Survey for School transport news and noted that it is important to note how the results, while interesting, are incomplete based on 14 of the 50 states that do not report.

The final report covering all states is expected in May.

Yet, unsurprisingly, the 35 states and Washington, DC that have responded so far have spent more than $ 313.4 billion on education and support services totaling more than $ 175 billion, for more than 34.1 million students enrolled this fall. Student transportation reached over $ 20.1 billion, down 5.7% from fiscal 2019, ahead of “other unspecified support services” at $ 18 billion, restoration to $ 15 billion and general administration to $ 10 billion.

Delaware, Minnesota, Washington, Wyoming, and DC were the only reported increases in student transportation spending.

O&M spending accounted for the most spending on support services at nearly $ 43.9 billion, student support services at nearly $ 27 billion, and teacher support services at nearly $ 27 billion. $ 23.775 billion.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected at least 55.1 million students in 124,000 U.S. public and private schools nationwide, the report states that student transportation and food services, who had to pivot if not completely stop when switching to virtual learning, experienced slower growth within 10 years of spending than other categories

Ammon commented that the relative flatness of the 10-year spending trendline “is an artefact of the Great Recession and its recovery, so I wonder if the comparatively larger slope of the line starting in [2017] districts are catching up on what should be spent.


Related: FCC announces second round of funding for Wi-Fi for school buses
Related: CARES Act funds student liability and COVID-19 cleanup of Georgia school buses
Related: (STN Podcast E73) Shiny New Tech: Using Federal Funding to Support School Bus Operations and Student Success


So far, Arizona and California are the only states to see lower total education revenues from fiscal 2019. With the exception of DC and four states (Arkansas, Delaware, Maryland and Missouri), spending increased.

The survey also shows the state’s initial per student spending.

Despite additional support to the public primary and secondary education systems from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), total federal revenues stood at $ 40.8 billion, down 1.5% from $ 41.2 billion in fiscal 2019. However, the report notes that the full implications of the CARES law on federal revenues for public school systems are not expected to occur. feel before the next full exercise.

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